Ace Atkins stays true to Robert B. Parker’s Spenser, keeps pushing him forward in ‘Angel Eyes’

The author, who also has his own heroic creation, Quinn Colson, is someone fans of crime fiction should be reading if they aren’t already.

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Ace Atkins.

Ace Atkins.

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Zebulon Sixkill has to be one of the best names for a P.I. in crime fiction.

Which is fitting in case the time ever comes that Spenser, the late master Robert B. Parker’s greatest creation, gets retired from being a full-time white knight and his former apprentice is tapped as his successor.

For now, Z, the former college football star who fell into an abyss Spenser pulled him from, reappears to provide an able hand in “Robert B. Parker’s Angel Eyes” (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, $27). He’s on his home turf of Los Angeles in the latest in the Spenser books carried on since Parker’s 2010 death by Ace Atkins, a onetime college football star himself.

Since leaving Boston, Z has set up shop in a strip mall in Hollywood — luckily enough for Spenser, who’s come west to track down a missing young woman.

They get drawn in, as Spenser does, to a world of trouble they must face and triumph over. This time, it involves a Hollywood movie mogul with #MeToo worries, Armenian mobsters and the male head of a cult-like female empowerment organization that echoes the real-life NXIVM.

The complex plot keeps things interesting but never gets in the way of what always matters most in the world Spenser inhabits. That’s the characters Parker brought to life and their singular voices.

Atkins, who goes back and forth between the iconic Boston P.I. and his own heroic crime-fiction creation, Quinn Colson, the Army Ranger turned smalltown Mississippi sheriff, can’t lay claim to inventing Parker’s myth-worthy hero. But he has stayed true to his voice and his literate, dialogue-driven vision while keeping his characters compelling and allowing them to grow.

If you love crime fiction and aren’t already reading Ace Atkins, you should be.

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